The Cross Question

Posted by Censor Librorum on Feb 4, 2007 | Categories: Lesbian in a Catholic Sort of Way

From Yahoo News this morning –

“As a Catholic, Vince Halsey often went to Mass at the College of William and Mary’s historic Wren Chapel when he was a undergraduate in the 1980s. Also a Catholic, school President Gene R. Nichol often goes to the 120 seat chapel alone at night to think in the quiet.

Both agree the chapel is a sacred space meaningful to students, alumni, faculty and staff of the public school who use it for religious services and secular events.

They clash, though, over what to do with an unadorned, 18-inch cross that had been displayed on the altar since about 1940.

Nichol ordered the cross removed in October to make the chapel more welcoming to students of all faiths. Previously, the cross could be removed by request; now it can be returned by request.

“It’s the right thing to do to make sure that this campus is open and welcoming to everyone,” Nichol said. “This is a diverse institution religiously, and we want it to become even more diverse.”

Haley and more than 10,000 supporters who have signed this online petition since last fall want Nichol to put the cross back onthe altar permanently. More than 1,100 students, alumni and others have signed a petition in support of Nichol since January 31.

In response to the early protests, Nichol decided in December to return the cross to the chapel on Sundays, and he recently created a committee that will examine the role of religion at public universities and the use of the chapel.

Nichol, who became president in 2005, said perhaps 20 people mentioned concerns about the chapel’s cross to him during his first year and a half on the job.

“Does that marvelous place belong to everyone, or is it principally for our Christian students?” Nichol said. “Do we actually value religious diversity, or have we determined, because of our history, to endorse a particular religious tradition to the exclusion of others?”

I think both men and supporters have valid points. I also think they are missing a third, fourth and possibly fifth point of view – what about our citizens who don’t subscribe to a monotheistic religion? How will their feelings and sensibilities be accommodated by the university, and going forward, other American institutions?

– Should we cease or ban the use of a Bible at any official function? For example, should we have elected officials sworn in by putting their hand on our flag?

– Does the United States favor monothetistic religions, particularly Christianity and Judaism to the exclusion of others? I think it does. Since our country’s demographics are expanding to include more Muslims, Buddhists, plus people who are returning to heathen observances, should we drop the mention of “God” or “Creator” or anything that smacks of One God and Ten Commandments type of values? Should we be inclusive of people who don’t believe in a single divinity, people who believe in Gods and Goddesses, or just Spirits for that matter.

It’s interesting to speculate how much Christian and Jewish religious leaders are willing to minimize the contribution and place of their owns faiths in American life in order to make room for others.

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